The Arizona Diamondbacks have little chance of making the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
The Chicago Cubs’ only chance of avoiding their first 100-loss season in 46 years is picking up a rare win in an NL West ballpark.
Arizona goes for a fifth straight home win in this series Friday night when the Cubs try to end a 17-game road losing streak against West opponents.
After last season’s worst-to-first turnaround in the West, the Diamondbacks (78-78) will likely be watching the postseason this year as they trail St. Louis by six games for the NL’s second wild-card spot with six games left.
“We haven’t played well enough. That’s why we’re in the position we’re in. It’s disappointing,” manager Kirk Gibson told the Diamondbacks’ official website following Thursday’s 7-3 loss to San Francisco.
Arizona opens its final homestand against a Cubs team 0-16 in West parks this season following Thursday’s 7-5 loss to Colorado.
Chicago (59-97), which has a franchise record-tying 56 road losses, is winless on the road against West foes since a 6-2 victory versus San Diego on Sept. 27, 2011.
If the Cubs can’t win one of these three games in the desert - they were swept in their last trip to Phoenix from June 22-24 - they’ll lose 100 games for the first time since finishing 59-103 in 1966.
Even if Chicago wins once during this set, it will have to sweep major league-worst Houston at home next week to avoid triple digits in losses.
The Cubs, losers of five straight and nine of 10, kick off their final road series with Travis Wood (6-12, 4.23 ERA) on the hill.
The left-hander has a chance to set a career high in wins, but it’s been a rough second half for the first-year Cub. He’s been tagged for 15 home runs - though none in his last five games - while going 2-9 with a 5.12 ERA in 14 starts since the All-Star break.
Wood will get his first look at Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is among the NL’s best against southpaws with a .351 batting average.
Goldschmidt, who is 13 for 36 during a 10-game hitting streak, is 6 for 18 with a homer, a triple and two doubles against the Cubs this season.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who had a homer among his three hits Thursday, will make his first appearance in Arizona in a Cubs uniform. He went 4 for 11 in a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks from July 13-15.
Alfonso Soriano was 6 for 11 with two homers and five RBIs in that series at Wrigley Field to improve his batting average against the Diamondbacks this season to .435.
Soriano could have a good a chance to add to his career-best RBI total of 106, as he’s 6 for 11 with three homers lifetime against Friday’s starter Ian Kennedy (14-11, 4.14).
The right-hander, who was denied a third consecutive winning start after yielding four runs in Sunday’s 10-7 victory at Colorado, is 0-1 with a 10.61 ERA in two starts versus Chicago this season.
Darwin Barney, a .412 hitter (7 for 17) against Diamondbacks pitching this season, can set a major league record with his 142nd consecutive errorless game as a second baseman. He is tied with Placido Polanco, who set that mark in 2007 with Detroit.